Bill increasing benefits of indigent senior citizens lapses into law

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 01:47 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2022 08:00 PM

 George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (2ND UPDATE) — A bill seeking to increase the monthly pension of poor senior citizens and providing them more benefits has lapsed into law, senators said Tuesday. 

A document shared by Sen. Joel Villanueva, who is among the authors of the measure, showed that Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez has returned the copy of Republic Act No. 1196 to Congress on Aug. 1.

The Office of the Press Secretary has yet to provide journalists a copy of the document.

The measure raises the monthly pension of indigent senior citizens to P1,000 from the previous P500. 

It will also now be distributed by the National Commission of Senior Citizens instead of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Villanueva, who is celebrating his birthday on Tuesday, expressed his gratitude for the bill's enactment into law.
 
“Happy birthday indeed! Batas na po ang ating doubling the pension of indigent senior citizens. Praise God!!! Thank you, thank you,” the senator said in a message to journalists.

Villanueva said P24 billion annually or 0.5 percent of the national budget is needed to fund the program.

“Yun na hong commission (NCSC) ang magte-take over dito dahil sila naman talaga ang mas nakakaalam ng database… Challenging dito siyempre ang pagkuha ng pondo diba? Maraming puwedeng pagkunan," Villanueva said in a briefing.

Meantime, qualified senior citizen-beneficiaries are those who are not covered by SSS, GSIS, 4Ps or any local government monthly pension, the senator said.

Sen. Grace Poe, the principal author or the first to file the bill, urged concerned government agencies to "put in place a system that would make the monthly stipend released in the most expeditious and efficient manner, and ensure that no eligible beneficiary is deprived."

"The increase in the pension of indigent senior citizens is a timely response to catch up with the urgent and real needs of our indigent elderly," Poe said.

"Ito ay napapanahon at nararapat lamang sa sektor na nakapag-ambag na ng malaki para sa ating lipunan. It's time to give back, ika nga,” said Sen. Sonny Angara, co-author of the bill. 

Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes also lauded the enactment of the measure as he appealed implementors to "clear away the red tape so seniors get P1,000 pension ASAP."

"Maraming salamat po sa mga kasamahan ko sa Kamara noong 18th Congress, pati na sa mga kapanalig nating Senador na kasama nating pumanday sa batas na ito," he said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa meantime reminded agencies that will be tasked to implemented the pension distribution to ensure a speedy distribution of aid to deserving senior citizens.

“Dapat yung agency concern should be serious about that… Sigurado yan, tatarayan sila ni Senador Imee Marcos pag hindi pag hindi sila nag-ayos sa kanilang gagawin… io-oversee ng Senado iyan para hindi masayang ang pondo,” Dela Rosa said.

- with Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

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